Is it free agency time yet? Redskins’ fans that have heard Mike Shanahan’s latest John Beck comments, surely hope so. Shanahan says that he’s serious about John Beck being his starting quarterback. This is the same Shanny that didn’t even invite Jay Cutler to a workout before drafting him 11th overall, right? When has Mike Shanahan ever shown his hand?
The only way to ever know what Mike is going to do is to look at his track record. I wrote an article two months ago about how Mike Shanahan uses running backs to build his teams. You can see him putting the pieces into place to keep up with this philosophy. The other offensive tell he has is his love for a mobile quarterback. A quarterback that can create with his feet and make throws out of the pocket. Shanahan’s playbook is heavily loaded with bootlegs. The trend of quarterbacks he’s used since Elway have also had the gunslinger mentality. The last guy Shanahan had in Denver was Jay Cutler but before him was a guy they called the Snake.
NFL lovers have a short term memories. They always remember the end of a player’s career more than the career as a whole. It’s a “what have you done for me lately” mentality? We remember Jake Plummer leading the Broncos to an AFC Championship game, one in which the Broncos lost to the eventual Super Bowl winning Steelers. Plummer had something like 99 turnovers in that loss. But that’s who Jake was his whole career. He threw a left-handed interception…enough said. Shanahan was able to contain him to a point and even went to that AFC Championship game with Plummer at the helm. Doubting Shanahan’s powers? Let’s look at Plummer before he played with Shanny and compare to his time in Denver.
Here’s what sticks out in the stats. Before Shanahan, Plummer only had one season with more touchdown passes than interceptions. He also never had a season with a 60% completion percentage in Arizona and only one season with less than three fumbles lost. In Denver, Jake passed over 4000 yards in a season and almost average a 60% completion percentage. He also only had one season with more interceptions than touchdowns and that was his last one, when Shanahan had given up on him and wanted to turn the team over to rookie, Jay Cutler. Plummer was +24 TDs/INTs in Denver and -24 TDs/INTs in Arizona. He was almost 2.5 fumbles lost to every rush touchdown with the Cardinals and in Denver he had a rush touchdown for every fumble lost.
Vince Young is a far superior athlete to what Jake Plummer was. Young just needs to have a coach that actually wants him and that can effectively keep him in line. Shanahan liked Young when he was coming out of college and felt at that time that he could harness his skill set and make him an effective NFL quarterback. Let’s look at what Shanahan would have to mold.
Young was able to surpass a 60% completion percentage, without having any decent receivers. He also ran over 500 yards in his rookie season and followed that up with almost 400 yards rushing the next season. The Titans attempted to make him more of a pocket passer after that and took his greatest weapon away from him, his mobility. Like Plummer, Young was able to lead his team to the playoffs before playing with Shanahan.
Young’s worst TD to INT season was 2007 when he had 9 touchdowns to 17 interceptions. It still wasn’t as bad as Jake’s 1999 season, where he had 9 touchdowns to 24 interceptions. He turned that around and was a much better quarterback under Shanahan. Vince could do the same thing. Young was a better passer in 2010 but he has the obvious baggage that is running him out of Nashville. Young will show flashes of brilliance, like the 90+ yard drive vs. Arizona that he finished off with the Kenny Britt touchdown pass. His downfall is when he has the fumbles or interceptions on plays that he should just protect the ball by throwing it away or tucking it in. Plummer had these same flaws.
Mike Shanahan is implementing his zone blocking scheme and with the veterans he has, blended with the draft picks from this year, he’ll have it operating like it was in Denver. He also drafted Leonard Hankerson, one of the most underestimated receivers in the 2011 NFL draft. With the zone blocking game running correctly, viable receiving threats, and a talented, mobile young at quarterback, Washington will be back in contention.
I know I’ll get an email from someone stating that Gary Kubiak developed Jake Plummer in Denver, so I’ll go ahead and respond before you bother writing. This is true, however, Kyle Shanahan trained under Kubiak and his father Mike in Denver. Then he followed Kubiak to Houston and continued to be mentored by Kubiak. He’s well versed in the Mike Shanahan / Gary Kubiak quarterback molding methods. Kyle Shanahan also played at the University of Texas with Vince Young. Although he doesn’t have VY’s initials tattooed on him, like he did with another former Longhorn quarterback (Chris Simms), he has seen him at the peak of his brilliance.
One last note, the Redskins have both John Beck and Rex Grossman on their roster. Vince Young isn’t going to get elite money, is it really a risk to sign him? For everyone who is down on Vince Young leading a franchise and saying that there is no way for him to be successful, what were your thoughts on Mike Vick out of prison and Kurt Warner leaving the Giants for the Cardinals? It’s all about being around the right people, system, and environment.
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Jayson Braddock is an NFL Scout / NFL Writer & On-Air Personality. Jayson is also a football insider for the Dylan Gwinn show on 790 AM in Houston, TX - Listeners NOT in the Houston metropolitan area can hear Jayson on iheart radio or sports790.com. You may email Jayson directly @ firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @JaysonBraddock